A reader described the front door of Ruk & Pluk as the magical portal of platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter series. The step towards an alternative universe. There’s a lot to be said for that.
There is a warning on the front door that it is not possible to pay with PIN inside, only with cash. For that reason alone, Ruk & Pluk is a glimpse of a bygone era, and once inside the alienation will only increase.
In Ruk & Pluk it is Christmas every day. The ceiling is covered with gold-colored foil and orange decorations and it hangs there all year round. Orange is handy, you can always use it, and the decorations are also supplemented during Sinterklaas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Carnival and Halloween. There is no special day that Ruk & Pluk does not celebrate.
Want to know more about the election? And what are the contenders?
The Amsterdam city council has unanimously adopted a proposal to protect the brown pub. Time for an election among readers of Het Parool: what is the best brown pub in the city? The polls are open until Monday, November 27, 11:59 PM.
Contenders are De Nieuwe Lelie, ‘t Monumentje, De Engels Reet, Ruk & Pluk and De Oranjerie. Het Parool will publish portraits of the nominated bars in the run-up to November 27. Vote here for your favorite brown pub in Amsterdam.
The legendary inflatable penis also hangs from the ceiling all year round. Now that’s one conversation piece the Ruk & Pluks style.
Where does that name come from?
Many Amsterdam residents wonder: where on earth does that name come from? Well, once upon a time, Ruk & Pluk, who have unfortunately passed away from us, were the owners. Pierre and Hans received that nickname at their permanent campsite in the east of the country. First you pull, then you pluck. In those parts that expression comes from the farm. This concerns green beans.
When someone in the café asked who was Ruk and who was Pluk, Pierre and Hans generally replied: ‘Come and lie down between us, and you will know soon enough.’ Messrs Ruk & Pluk now hang pontifically framed on the wall of the café, in a gallery of honor next to Sjaak Swart and André Hazes.
In Ruk & Pluk there are always cubes of cheese, sausage, chips, bitterballen or flames, with compliments from the house. In better times there was herring and soup on Friday. At Ruk & Pluk they hope that those times will return soon. Another tradition: the bitterballs are passed around every time Ajax scores. (So the freezer is still full of that.)
The café has to move with the times, it has to. The old guard, the traditional enthusiast of the brown pub life, is slowly dying out, and somehow this is happening even faster with Ruk & Pluk’s customers.
Fortunately, the café also knows how to attract a younger audience. Occasionally a tropical evening is organized for them (complete with a cocktail bar on the sidewalk outside) or a shuffleboard tournament. Recently they even started selling IJwit and Texels Skuumkoppe – a small revolution. From the bottle then. From tap is still a step too far. That’s where Heineken and Heineken alone belong.
Progress is fine, but piecemeal.
In short, Ruk & Pluk is an alcoholic maze in East. Once inside, it’s difficult to leave.
What is a brown café?
The classic brown pub has Persian carpets on the table, the name in curlicue letters on the window and behind the bar is a joke. The café is a step back in time. According to a stricter definition, there is no music, the waiters wear white shirts and the food on offer consists of little more than a rack of boiled eggs on the counter. Come on, and beef sausage.
Music is only allowed if it is played softly, or at least in Dutch. Rickety stools and chairs are an advantage. Preferably no modern features such as WiFi, a bilingual website or a television. Just make phone calls outside. And especially no silly mixed drinks. Gin is drunk in the brown pub, period.
Regulars have their own place. Newcomers must take this seriously. But newcomers are also quickly welcome, the innkeeper will take care of that. The brown pub is above all a place to meet others, and preferably to chat endlessly. A second living room, but a lot more cozy than at home.
About the author: Hans van der Beek has been working for Het Parool for over 25 years. In the past he had popular columns such as Hans Halveert and Schuim, now he mainly writes Amsterdam background stories and reports.